It’s NaNoWriMo, folks. Or for those of you sane people who are not stricken with the terrible writing affliction, it’s National Novel Writing Month. People from all over the world sign up (literally, you sign up at that website) to write a novel by the end of November. That’s 30 days. The organization behind NaNoWriMo states their mission as one for boosting people to their creative potential.
So in honor of this heroic endeavor, I’ve fashioned a series of blog posts going through the 5 parts of a story to exhibit how a novel (here defined as a work of 50,000 words) can be written in as little as 30 days. So come along and bring your notebook. You’ll have your novel written in no time.
Part 1: Exposition
Let’s start where any good story does. At the beginning.
Many a good story has started with the words “once upon a time,” and there is nothing wrong with starting a story here. However, there are some things to accomplish after this in what is called the exposition of a story. In the exposition, you tell your read what the heck is happening and who it is happening to. Usually in the exposition, the reader gains some back story, some narrative, something that tells the reader what is going on in the story.
As an example, the exposition in Son of a Duke, tells the reader several things:
- It’s a story set in the Regency time period.
- In London, England.
- Our heroine is a housekeeper.
- And something funny is most definitely going on or why else would a dead body catapult off a balcony to the floor of a crowded ballroom?
The exposition can take as long or as not as you want. It’s your story. But it can encompass 10,000 of the requisite 50,000 words. That’s a 1/5 of the way there.
Here are some things to consider.
Establish your hero and heroine’s appearance.
This doesn’t mean to give a huge narrative on your hero’s bulging biceps. Perhaps the heroine notices something unusual about how the hero walks, or the hero mentions to the heroine that he likes a tall woman.
Establish your hero and heroine’s personalities.
Your characters should never be as flat as the page they are written on. Use the exposition to give signals as to the character’s personality. Perhaps the heroine turns down the hero’s advances with a single pithy comment. Perhaps the hero is too shy to speak to the heroine. Give the reader a reason to learn more about these characters in the first few pages of the story. Otherwise, there will be no reason to read on.
Next week, we’ll talk about rising action and the use of conflict in the story.
For those participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck meeting your word counts!